Ghana: Time to revise COVID-19 protocol at ports

Some two years ago, at the dawn of the Coronavirus pandemic, the world was thrown in a quandary. While some developed countries – with cutting edge science and technology – couldn’t distinguish a kneecap from a shoulder to mitigate the debilitating pandemic, the ruling government of some 30 million people with limited resources, employed strategies to thaw the exponential and geometric spread of the highly infectious disease. Ghana, and rightly so, received accolades from the international community and was lauded as a progressive country.

Included in the country’s strategies were stringent requirements from point of origin to Ghana, including but not limited to unending bureaucracy and red tapeism before being processed to enter the country. In general, travelers didn’t complain much because they were cognizant of the existential problem the world faced.

Even though, scientists are wary of another wave and mutant of the virus, prevailing conditions portray that the virus has ebbed. Subsequently, several countries, including those that were severely impacted by the virus, have revised COVID-19 protocol requirements at ports and points of entry. But not Ghana, and Amandla is scratching its head to understand the rationale behind it.  

The multi-pronged ripple effect of the pandemic is and will be felt for a long time to come. The world’s Supply Chain has been heavily affected, compromising both national and international trade and deliverabilities. In the United States for example, used vehicle purchases have become a rarity as MSRP were gouged by unscrupulous dealers. Mental health increased worldwide because people were mostly confined in their homes, curtailing tourism that is the backbone of many a country. The price tag of healing and restoring human faculties to its pre COVID-19 health can only be imagined. As for the uncontrolled and unending increases in the “black gold” to fuel an economy, the less talked about, the better. And the war in Ukraine that stares the world in the face with all the attributes a new world order do not help either.

It is for the aforementioned reasons and some, that we think the Ghana Airport Company Limited is driving away potential tourists to pump some hard needed foreign currencies to aid the ailing economy. Since the pandemic, non-holders of Ghanaian passports traveling, for example, from the U.S. pay a pre-flight fee of $150 for a COVID-19 test that would be administered at point of entry vis-à-vis Kotoka International Airport in Accra. Ghana passport holders, on the other hand pay $50. A non-Ghanaian passport holder of a family of four, for example would have to churn out $600. If this is not a disincentive to tourism, we don’t know or have a word to describe it.

Further, a COVID-19 test that must be valid within a 72-hour period must be taken prior to embarkment. Travelers to Ghana had by and large kept their contempt and dislike for this hefty fee to themselves. But all that is fast changing with a thaw in the pandemic. As we write, online petition drives against the levy have been initiated, and  Amandla agrees with the concept. However, our beef is not necessarily with the levied fee, but rather the unwanted frustrations and stress associated with the paperwork.

Entries of forms on the portals of the managers of the COVID-19 is notoriously mind-boggling, especially the fee. Not only has potential travelers called Amandla to vent their pent-up fury, but we experienced it as well. The system, probably incapable of handling and processing the hundreds of thousands of potential travelers the world over, at any time, would simply display “Failed”.  “Failed” for lack of funds on a credit or debit card/defective card or system failure? An anticipated Reference Code that is generated after a successful payment would not be available to utilize in a Health Declaration Form.

It takes sheer luck and lots of determination to successfully go through the payment format. People with family and friends in Ghana rely on them to pay the equivalent amount after which a link is provided to access the needed information. As much as native Ghanaians Living Abroad have little or no choice to come to Ghana for any reasons, potential tourists would simply travel elsewhere, compromising the growing tourism in Ghana. Adding salt to injury, the COVID-19 protocol at the Kotoka International Airport has bred bribery and corruption. Most tired and frustrated travelers bribe their ways through for quick processing of test results. Some staff at airport described the atmosphere (at the airport) last December as chaotic and noisy as Makola Market in an inquiry. Some youth who attended the 5th annual Afrochella Festival in Ghana in December last year did not deem it necessary to come back for lack of coordination at Ghana’s International Airport. They point to airports in the U.S. as busier and larger than KIA, yet smoother in the processes and procedure of going through protocols.

Amandla believes it’s time the Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) revised its mitigating factors and bring back the airport to its pre-COVID-19 status. Or, unless the GACL comes out with tangible explanations, we deem the collection of COVID-19 test fees at this material moment from travelers as a fleecing tool that has no place in these hard times.

While at it, we would hope that the GACL utilized its share from the COVID-19 test fees to defray part of the GHS49 million it owes the Electricity Company of Ghana.

Posted by on Mar 22 2022. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Ghana: Time to revise COVID-19 protocol at ports”

  1. Rev. Dr. Eleanor Moody-Shepherd

    I agree that it is a problem for tourism. I experienced the frustration last years! Some people that wanted to come with me decided to go to other places! Ghana need to be more friendly to people that wish to come to that beautiful country!

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